Yesterday March 29, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the latest study of children autism. The result is terrifying: one out of 88 children has been identified with an autism disorder. The even more alarming fact is that the autism rate is doubling in less than a decade: based on surveillance data from 2000, one in 150 children had Autism, the rate went up to one in 125 in 2004, one in 110 in 2006. The recent announced rate of one in 88 was actually based on the 2008 data. Dr. Louisa Silva of Oregon stated that the current rate of Autism should be higher than one in 88.
Dr. Silva received a medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1979. She started her initial training in Chinese medicine in l990. She also received a master’s degree in Public Health from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2003. She became board certified as a fellow in the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture in 2008. She is the lead researcher and trainer in the Qigong Sensory Training protocol.
Since 2000, Dr. Silva has completed multiple research studies of the effect of Qigong massage on young children with autism. After joining the Teaching Research Institute at Western Oregon University, she developed and evaluated a training and support program in which parents give their children the massage, as well as a training program for early intervention professionals to train and support parents and work with children directly. Her method of Qigong massage has proven to be effective. It brings the sensory reactivity of autistic kids back to normal, so that a child receives reliable information about the outside world. And the brain can make sense of the incoming sensory information, and coordinate looking, listening, and paying attention. Within a short period of time of getting Qigong massage, children begin to make more eye contact. Once the sensory nervous system comes back to normal, a child stops the self-injurious and repetitive behaviors.
The Qigong massage is generally given to the child by the parent at bedtime, and becomes a relaxing part of the bedtime routine, often ending with the child asleep within minutes. According to Dr. Silva, autistic children’s sleep improves within the first few months of the intervention.
Research on Qigong Sensory Training also shows that the massage brings the autonomic nervous system back into balance and strengthens the child’s digestive system. As the child’s digestive system becomes stronger, diarrhea and constipation resolve, appetite improves, and the child’s choice of food widens.
Last year, I interviewed Dr. Silva for her study and book Qigong Massage for Your Child with Autism. Since then she has published three articles. One of them is on the autism parenting stress study. Dr. Silva said that parenting stress for parents of young autistic children is four times of those with typical children and two times of those with children with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. In general, parents’ stress level abates when an autistic child has less behavioral issues or other problems.
The third paper Dr. Silva did was about early intervention for autism with a parent-delivered massage program. In this one, parents were taught the massage, gave the children the massage themselves every day at home, and received seven subsequent weekly home visits. Children improved significantly with the daily parent massage alone. Even if parents cannot afford professional help, this is something they can do it themselves.
CDC’s study shows the following:
- The new study marks a 23% increase since the last report in 2009. Some of the increase is due to the way children are identified, diagnosed and served in their local communities, although exactly how much is due to these factors is unknown.
- The number of children identified with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) varied widely across the 14 Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, from 1 in 47 to 1 in 210.
- ASDs are almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252).
- The largest increases over time were among Hispanic children (110%) and black children (91%). CDC suspects that some of this increase is due to greater awareness and better identification among these groups.
- More children are being diagnosed at earlier ages—a growing number of them by age 3. Still, most children are not diagnosed until after they reach age 4.
As the general population has become more aware of children’s autism, more children are now diagnosed that they are impacted by autism. It a way it is good because early intervention is extremely important. To learn more about how Qigong massage can help autistic children and their parents, you can visit Qigong Sensory Training Institute or watch the video on the left. You can share this info with family and friends.
Now you can follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/TaichiExaminer .